My 1995 production “Siberia” is an unknown film for most skiers and snowboarders. In a enlightening, yet disturbing adventure to the avalanche ridden Badzal mountains of Siberia, my crew and I attempt to make a film promoting a summer hunting and fishing camp that was trying to start a winter heli-ski operation. It was family run by aspiring Russian entrepreneurs.
Our athletes were Scot Schmidt and the late-great Craig Kelly. The Japanese investors wanted to promote peace between skier’s and snowboarders in a video for Japan.
I won’t give away the film, but somehow these wonderful Russian folks (Mom, Dad, Boy, Auntie’s, Uncles) had their hands on a 28 passenger/cargo/troop carrier Soviet Sikorsky helicopter which served as the (two hour flight) transport ship from the camp to Khabarovsk, the nearest city and Soviet era hospital. The Sikorsky was also the heli-ski drop off ship in the mountains.
The pilots had only landed this monster helicopter on a mountainside a few times before we got there.
Then there was the avalanche terror.
When it slid (which was every time you sneezed) it would slide to the rocks. You would break your hip in the first 20 feet if you got caught in a slide then summarily gutted and filleted by the sharp rocks.
The film is layered with an eerie prescience of one’s mortality and the Hidden Dragon of avalanche. Especially with the death of our dear Russian host Kim by avalanche the next winter. He was undoubtedly riding the killer Red White and Blue K2 snowboard I gave him when the avalanche Dragon got him. I had done the Japanese version of the film that spring, but after Kim died the next winter I went back into the studio and cut a cleaner, leaner, meaner, scarier version of “Siberia” in honor of Kim. While re-editing the film, I was positive I had a magic Russian birdie named Kim on my shoulder helping me make it right.
Then eight years later Craig would succumb to death by avalanche in British Columbia.
I was living on Maui and driving somewhere pointless when I got the call about Craig. I pulled a U-turn and drove to my studio. Locked the doors. Turned out the lights and watched Craig in Siberia 5 times in a row and cried my friggin’ eyes out.
The interviews in “Siberia” with Craig and Scot are strong.
The drinking scene is unparalleled in any ski or snowboard film. Take that Whiskey!
Here is what Powder Magazine said about Siberia in 1995:
“Evocative, thought provoking, loving camerawork, creative editing, visually beautiful, great perspectives and transitions throughout, a film o culture and feeling, good vibrations, a funkadelic fruitopia. Stump’s most sophisticated film by far, and perhaps his best as a total package.”
Hope you like it.